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Christmas is a time for spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and enjoying good food. If you’re looking for a place to spend Christmas that has all of that and more, downtown Chattanooga is the place for you!
There are plenty of things to do in Chattanooga during the Christmas season, from concerts and festivals to shopping and sightseeing. In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best ways to enjoy Christmas in Chattanooga!
One of the best things about Chattanooga is that it’s a city that really comes alive during the holidays. If you’re looking for something to do, there’s sure to be something going on that will suit your interests. There’s plenty to keep you busy during your visit, so let’s check out some of the best ways to spend Christmas in Chattanooga.
Christmas Things to do in Chattanooga
You might be wondering, what is there to do in Chattanooga TN for Christmas? Well, the answer is plenty! Chattanooga is a vibrant city with festive activities going on day and night, and the holiday season is no different.
So, whether you are looking for some unique gifts, festive displays, outdoor adventures, live holiday music, or just a new family tradition, you’ll find it in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga Christmas Market
During December weekends at the Chattanooga Convention Center, the Chattanooga Market is indoors. Each Saturday and Sunday in December, they have a Holiday Market with 200+ local food vendors, artists, and crafters selling unique presents and festive meals.
You can find one-of-a-kind pottery, unique artworks, handcrafted jewelry, local foods, natural bath and body items, locally produced clothing, wood furnishings, and so much more. Ask about commissioned works with a personalized touch from the vendors.
Location: 2 Carter Plaza, Chattanooga
See Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights
We love visiting the Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City, one of our family’s favorite activities. It’s quite lovely and festive, and it puts you in the Christmas mood.
The Enchanted Garden of Lights is open every day from mid-November until New Year’s, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Lookout Mountain Christmas Lights is a great thing to do just before Christmas Eve.
Location: 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain
Chattanooga’s Glenn Miller Gardens include an amazing ice rink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. In mid-November, the region becomes a winter fantasyland.
This is a great activity for families and couples and they are open both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day! Be sure to check their schedule before heading out.
Location: 1400 Market Street
Take a Christmas Cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat
There are lots of options for Christmas cruises on the Southern Belle, and they are very popular. You can choose from a Christmas Carol Dinner Cruise, Holiday Dinner Cruise, Breakfast with Santa, ‘Tis the Season Luncheon, or a Winter on the River Lunch Cruise.
Tickets sell out fast, but this is a great activity because you get a traditional holiday meal and a sightseeing cruise of the Tennessee River. Be sure to check the website for dates and sailings.
Location: 151 Riverfront Parkway
Enjoy a Holiday Train Ride
Chattanooga is well known for the Tennessee Valley Railroad, and you can take a wonderful holiday train ride at Christmastime.
Choose from the Hiwassee Holiday Train Ride, where ages 1 and up can enjoy a 1 hour 15 minute ride and indulge in a gingerbread cookie and chocolate milk, or enjoy the Christmas Dinner Train, where you can experience a four course dinner on a restored 1924 train car, or for the most Christmas spirit, enjoy the North Pole Limited Christmas Train, where you visit the “North Pole” on this exciting excursion!
Location: Most depart from 4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, but check before heading to the station
Our Favorite Christmas Hotel in Chattanooga
Chattanooga Choo Choo
This historic hotel is always decorated for the holidays and has several holiday events going on in December, including the Ice on the Landing event mentioned above. In the amazing lobby you can see one of the city’s tallest Christmas trees – 28 feet tall!
Location: 92 Choo Choo Ave, Chattanooga
Chattanooga Christmas with Kids
Tennessee Aquarium Holidays Under the Peaks
Enjoy the aquarium decorated for Christmas with festive music, lights and a lot of festive surprises like a holiday tree that twinkling in sync with an electric eel! You can also watch the Polar Express on IMAX 3D. You can catch this from Thanksgiving to New Year’s but it is closed on Christmas Day.
Location: One Broad Street, Chattanooga
Chattanooga Christmas Lights – The Holiday Trail of Lights
The Holiday Trail of Lights is a self-paced tour and features notable locations with millions of flickering lights at Chattanooga’s top holiday attractions. This list includes festivals, holiday activities, delectable holiday meals, Santa sightings, shopping, and live music and entertainment available throughout the city for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Location: This includes several stops, so see the map below
Ruby Falls and the Forest of Wishes
If you’ve never visited Ruby Falls the holiday season is the perfect time to go. It’s the same temperature in the cave year round (about 58 degrees F), they decorate the historic Ruby Falls Castle and surrounding area for the season and on the way to the glass front elevator you can write your holiday wish on an ornament to hang in the forest of wishes.
Even small children can make the walk to the falls, but strollers aren’t allowed so bring a front carrier if you are bringing a baby.
Location: 1720 Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga
Gingerbread Workshop at the Creative Discovery Museum
This is one winter activity with kids you don’t want to miss! Not only do you get to decorate gingerbread with candy, icing, sprinkles and more, but you also get hot chocolate, cookies and holiday music.
If you’re not a member of the museum, you’ll get admission included in the price of the workshop, and you must register in advance (spots fill up quickly!).
Location: 321 Chestnut St, Chattanooga
Reindeer on the Riverfront and Lighted Boat Parade
Santa and his reindeer will be on hand for photos with live reindeer, hot cocoa bar, fire pits, face painting/balloon animals, and holiday music. Then you can stay for the Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks organized by Southern Belle & Erwin Marine Sales.
Location: The banks of the TN River near 850 Market St, Chattanooga
Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops
This is one event we love at home, too, and we were excited to see it in Chattanooga as well. Visit Santa Claus and get a free souvenir photo when you register in advance.
Location: 1000 Bass Pro Dr, Chattanooga
Final Thoughts on Christmas in Chattanooga
There is no shortage of things to do in Chattanooga at Christmas time, so whether you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, some family fun, a festive activity for adults, or an opportunity to get your holiday shopping done, you’ll find it here.
There were too many things to list here, but there are also concerts, plays (like Charlie Brown and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) and many other activities that happen in this amazing city during the holidays.
We hope that this guide has given you some ideas of what to check out while you’re in town, with some ideas for the whole family.
Have a Merry Christmas from the Lil’ Travel Folks family!